Saturday, May 15, 2021

Australia to Hold Talks With Zuckerberg After Facebook Block

Australia will hold talks with Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg in a bid to break a legal standoff. This is after the tech giant angered the government by blocking the nation’s news sharing on its platform.

“We’ll see if there’s a pathway forward,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said in a Nine Network television interview on Friday. Adding he would talk with the company’s chief later in the day. After contacting Zuckerberg about his displeasure about Thursday’s “outrageous” block.

Still, Frydenberg said the government will proceed with its controversial legislation. One that will force Facebook and Google to pay Australian publishers for news content.

Related: TikTok takes on Facebook with US e-commerce push

Facebook switched off the main news source in Australia for almost one in five people. Also, they disabled a raft of government Facebook pages carrying public health advice on the coronavirus. Also, warnings from the weather bureau and even the site of a children’s hospital.

In contrast, Alphabet-owned Google — which also opposes the law — has negotiated a string of deals in the past week with media companies. In a bid to avoid the arbitration process enforced by the law.

“There is a A$9 billion ($7 billion) online advertising market that is completely dominated by Google and Facebook. We’re trying to create a level playing field,” Frydenberg said. “The rest of the world is watching us very closely.”

In the U.K., conservative MP and chairman of the Commons media committee Julian Knight called Facebook’s block in Australia “bullying.”

The “worst type of corporate culture,” according the the BBC. The U.K. News Media Association said the move showed stricter regulation might be required.

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